Documentary Family Photography | Sand, swings, and puddles: the mysteries of life

Documentary Family Photography | Sand, swings, and puddles: the mysteries of life

You've heard me say it before and I'll keep saying it just as often as I can: every family is different, and the activities that fill your days are unique to your own family, and you should never ever try to compare yourself to any other, because comparison is the thief of joy. But all strong families have one thing in common and that is...

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An hour with the Castellanos family

An hour with the Castellanos family

I made the trip back to Mississauga last weekend, during some kind of migraine-inducing pressure system that drove temperatures in mid-October to 24 Celsius. It was just as well, because Isabel's son was recovering from croup and the warm humid air was probably good for him. (Just guessing. I'm not a doctor.) They'd moved in to a new house only two weeks ago. Grandma and grandpa were visiting from Colombia, and they were hoping for some photos to take back with them. So, a busy time for them, and yet they made time for me.

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Fire engine red.

Fire engine red.

Toward the end of September, on a clear warm Saturday, the United Way and Kingston Fire and Rescue teamed up for a fundraising day full of fun for families. You could try your hand at putting out a car on fire, walk through an inflated house to learn about fire safety, take a ride in a firetruck, and run a fitness course fit for a fire-person.

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I threw out my back, and everything. (Alternate title: Dream it, and it will happen)

I threw out my back, and everything. (Alternate title: Dream it, and it will happen)

Midway through the month, I threw out my back. It might have had something to do with the 15-hour wedding I shot two days prior to that, or with my TERRIBLE posture when editing photographs. Or with the fact that I'm getting old. So old... :D

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Birth photography: is it right for you?

Birth photography: is it right for you?

Having a photographer in the room while you're in pain, while you're facing your biggest fears (because let's face it - for me, the impending pain of labour was my biggest fear), while you're vulnerable and naked and possibly passing gas from strain... for some people it's just too much.

But there there is the flip side...

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Living up to its name: Ink-Tegrity Tattoo Shop raises $1825 for Loving Spoonful

Living up to its name: Ink-Tegrity Tattoo Shop raises $1825 for Loving Spoonful

The event ran 12-6pm this Sunday, and the crew were ready to WORK HARD. There were boxes of complimentary donuts, tall cups of coffee for the artists, and a full waiting room of eager folks waiting to choose their piece and put it on skin. Oh, and an array of flash selections by each artist to choose from.

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family and so much more: on photographing life.

That's the best bit about documentary photography, I suppose: being welcomed into lives as they unfold, trying my best to do them justice. 

That whole bit about being a fly on the wall - who knows if that is true? Flies buzz around in your ear and unnerve you. A documentary photography experience normally has the opposite result: it calms and grounds people, and makes them thankful for the lives they live.

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The Sunflower Festival @ Kricklewood Farm 2017

The Sunflower Festival @ Kricklewood Farm 2017

I photographed the Sunflower Festival at Kricklewood farm again this year. There is a tasting alley, where chefs prepare small bite-sized dishes to load up on a plate. There is a barbecue, music, artisans and craftspeople, tons of local vendors, a silent auction, and of course - GOATS! (and a few pigs and poultry, too). (And sunflower fields, though those weren't quite in bloom this year because of the rain)

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from Ontario to Alberta: a family of six says goodbye

from Ontario to Alberta: a family of six says goodbye

The Murrays are one of those families that you want to have living on your block.

Though we were never actual neighbours, my kids went to school with their kids, and my daughter counted their daughter among her besties. And whenever I saw them around, they simply brought energy and fun and goodness to the community. In short, the Murrays are good people.

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when a girl turns eleven (and the worst place to get hit with a water balloon)

when a girl turns eleven (and the worst place to get hit with a water balloon)

Running, grinning, posing without prompt, a golden fidget spinner in the hand and plastic leis as vibrant crowns.

You’ll find all that and more, perhaps, should you be invited to photograph an 11th birthday party in the middle of July in Ontario.

And a photographer sitting in the grass, as a giant water balloon falls right on her crotch: risks of the trade.

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there is a chocolatier in this town...

there is a chocolatier in this town...

After watching her work her magic for a little while, I naturally assume Audrey was a chemistry whiz in school. This artisanal chocolate business is part art, part science. But no, she says. She didn’t take chemistry in school. Her counsellor told her that she’d be no good at science. He suggested she’d do something more suitable. Like being a typist.

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a fill of urban idyll.

a fill of urban idyll.

Spending this afternoon at the Toronto shore... It makes me miss the city. The scent of shawarma wafting through the summer air, the hum of traffic, the hiss and chimes of street-cars rounding corners, opening, and closing. Children somewhere, yelling, planes overhead, the pavement hot, the air - sticky.

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photography reaches deeper than research

photography reaches deeper than research

Before I became a family photographer, I was a parenting researcher. I was interested in how parents behaved, and how their children developed.

However, most of the hands-on data collection and family visits were not done by me. They were done by research assistants who would collect the data and hand it over to us, the researchers. 

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Why did you fall in love?

Why did you fall in love?

You've seen the photos social media tells you to have. You've seen it all.

What you might not have seen is that there is another way. Another way to document your days. Where the authentic is given full reign.

Ask yourself this: why did you fall in love with your life?

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Paula Sara: Bark'n up the Green Tree & Earth Paw

Paula Sara: Bark'n up the Green Tree & Earth Paw

Paula also has a sense of humour and a keen sense of timing: she was the lady who, at the Kingston Town Hall with the prime minister in January, after ‘tensions began to escalate' as she puts it, asked Justin Trudeau what he does with his old ties. After he fumbled for an answer, she told him, "The reason why I asked is because I’m looking at your tie and thinking it would make a fabulous dog collar"

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why blogs are useless and a bit about documentary photography

why blogs are useless and a bit about documentary photography

My studio photos from when I was a kid - I think I’ve got a couple of those - are empty vessels. They're fully devoid of context. Other than my cute pig-tails, and the virginal white dress, I can’t answer any questions about the time and place. What was I into at that period in my life? I didn’t wear dresses except on that one day my grandmother took me to the studio, and I didn’t wear my hair in pigtails, either, I know that much. I wore "boys'" clothes and played with sticks and stray kittens and I was afraid of frogs (which hasn’t changed). None of that comes through in my childhood studio portraits. Not even a tiny bit, though I wish it could.

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